Tuesday after the Third Sunday in Advent
Scripture: St. Luke 21:4-24 (NKJV)
5 Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, He said, 6 “These things which you see—the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.” 7 So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?” 8 And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. 9 But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.” 10 Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. 13 But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. 14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head shall be lost. 19 By your patience possess your souls.
20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. 22 For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
That “Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” is horribly misunderstood, simply because even most Christians don’t understand who “the Gentiles” are and what “Jerusalem” is. Thus, many of the Baptist and Pentecostal televangelists wish to say that the end is upon us because the Gentiles are no longer trampling Jerusalem, but it has been restored to the nation of Israel.
“Israel” is now properly used to refer to the Church—those who live by being made a new creature by faith in the crucified Christ (Gal. 6). Israel is now made up of those who have received the circumcision not made with human hands (Col. 2:11-15), Holy Baptism, through which all are made “children of God who inherit what is His” (Gal. 3:1–4:1) through faith in the blood of Christ. Indeed, not only are you—the Church—now called “Israel” in Holy Scripture, but you are even the Temple, the house built with living stones to offer up sacrifices of thanksgiving to God in every aspect of your life. You are the new Jerusalem, the holy city in which God dwells, where He is present to bless always.
You, O Jerusalem, are still trampled on by the Gentiles—those of Jewish blood and those not—as they play at being ‘Church’ but do not proclaim the faith in which you are bold to trust and to speak. Yet, unlike the Jerusalem of the flesh, you shine forth all the brighter for such trampling, as the glory and the strength of Jesus that uphold you are all the clearer.
Grant us a clear view from Your Word, O Triune God, of the high status you have given us in Christ, without any merit or worthiness in us, that we may live as Your holy nation, Your living Temple. Amen.